Pakistan’s Nuclear Terrorism

Nanda: The real threat to stability in South Asia is terrorism originating in Pakistan

• Ved Nanda

• March 29, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Tensions have now eased on the Indian subcontinent, but in mid-January after a suicide bomber in Pulwama, Kashmir, killed 40 Indian paramilitary police, India and Pakistan — two nuclear-armed neighbors — faced off.

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the bombing. Twelve days later the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a JeM camp at Balakot, deep inside Pakistan. That was followed by Pakistani jets crossing into Indian airspace and a dogfight ensuing between the two Air Forces, in which an Indian plane was shot down and its pilot captured. Pakistan returned him to India after a few days and further escalation was avoided by both sides.

But as a recent article by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has aptly stated, we are witnessing a “smoldering volcano.” These neighbors have fought four major wars since India was partitioned in 1947. The critical question now is, what has changed with Pulwama and Balakot?

The Balakot strike, which India called a “preemptive strike” to prevent another imminent JeM attack, marks a policy shift in India’s decades-long strategy of self-restraint — enduring proxy terror attacks, funded and actively supported by the Pakistani military and intelligence services. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have deterred India from conventional retaliation for these government-backed terrorist strikes.

After coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Modi of India suggested that he would no longer tolerate such proxy attacks. And in 2016, in response to an attack in Pathankot and Uri, Modi conducted a “surgical strike,” sending India’s armed forces across the border inside Pakistan.

This time, after Pulwama, the air strikes have sent a clear and resounding message to Pakistan — that India will not be intimidated by nuclear coercion: its response henceforth will be swift and proportionate and Pakistan must cease its proxy terror policy.

After Pulwama, India removed Pakistan from its “most favored nation” status, imposing 200 percent duties on all imports from Pakistan. This, however, is a symbolic gesture. A more serious action is blocking the water of three rivers flowing into Pakistan. Under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaties that govern the sharing of waters between India and Pakistan, India was entitled to make full use of these three rivers, but it was letting a percentage of their waters flow into Pakistan. “Blood and water cannot flow simultaneously,” announced Modi. Of course, the Balakot strike is of a different magnitude.

How relevant is international law, which prohibits the use of force in resolving international disputes? It is politics, not international law, that will resolve this conflict. But under international law rules, a country can use force in its self-defense to prevent an imminent attack. This was the U.S. justification for its invasion of Afghanistan, which the United Nations blessed, and it is the same justification that India has used for its military operations inside Pakistan.

Pakistan has been facing mounting international pressure, even from Islamic countries, to restrain terrorist groups operating from its territory, attacking India and Afghanistan. After the Pulwama attack, the White House urged Pakistan to punish those responsible for the attack.

While Pakistan has tried to convince the international community that it is taking adequate and appropriate measures against such groups, all these measures, such as after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack and the 2016 Uri attack, have been cosmetic. The terrorists, sanctioned by the government, have resurfaced soon after the announcement of such sanctions and the “banned” terrorist groups have always reincarnated under another name.

The real threat to stability in South Asia is terrorism originating in Pakistan. With the Balakot message and the continuing international pressure, perhaps Pakistan has learned that it is in its interest to control terrorist groups and stop the proxy attacks in India and Afghanistan. It indeed is in Pakistan’s interest to do so, because it also remains vulnerable to terrorism and has suffered immensely from such attacks.

Ved P. Nanda ( is Distinguished University Professor and Director of the Ved Nanda Center for International and Comparative Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  His column appears the last Sunday of each month.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail, and we may include it in a future column.

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The Growing Iranian Nuclear Horn



Netanyahu warns against nuclear Iran at 2012 UN General Assembly. (photo credit:” REUTERS)

Nearly half of Middle Eastern survey respondents say they are skeptical that Iran has stopped working to achieve nuclear weapons, according to a poll taken by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and reported by the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom.

The latest survey conducted by professional pollsters on behalf of the ministry found that 43% of Middle Easterners say Iran did not stop its nuclear program. The number of North American respondents who believe similarly is also high at one-third or 33%.

The survey also asked whether or not respondents were interested in their countries having ties with the Jewish state. In general, 75% of respondents believe that ties with Israel can be beneficial to their countries.

When broken down by Middle Eastern countries, 43% of Iraqis, 42% of Emiratis and  41% of Moroccans said they were in favor of ties with Israel. On the other hand, only 32% of Tunisians, 21% of Algerians and 23% of people from Saudi Arabia said they were in favor of such ties.

According to the report, the survey also examined how much respondents agreed that the Palestinian Authority is a roadblock to regional peace. Strikingly, the majority of respondents had no opinion: 53% in the Middle East, 52% in Western Europe and 51% in North America.

A senior official from the Foreign Ministry told Israel Hayom that “when it comes to the Palestinians, the important figure is actually how uninterested the global public is in the conflict.”

The Bloodshed So Far Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

img_4751Gaza border protests: 190 killed and 28,000 injured in a year of bloodshed

Using UN data we explore who has been affected, how they were injured and what life is like in Gaza today

Fri 29 Mar 2019 07.00 GMT

One year ago, Palestinians trapped in Gaza began a protest movement at the frontier with Israel that was intended to last six weeks.

Men, women and children demanded recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere to return to their ancestral homes in Israel and for an end to a punishing blockade that has made life unliveable.

Israeli snipers fired live ammunition, killing and maiming dozens. This lethal response on 30 March 2018 triggered anger and disbelief across the world but has not stopped.

A year later, the rallies continue. Thousands have bullet wounds through their legs. The streets of Gaza are filled with people limping or in wheelchairs. Children, journalists and medics have been killed, even when they were standing far back from the fence. The UN has said Israel’s military may have committed war crimes, deliberately targeting civilians.

Protesters have hurled rocks and molotov cocktails and attempted to damage and break through the fence using wire cutters and, in some cases, explosives.

The Israeli army has said its forces have opened fire to protect against attacks and incursions. Four troops have been injured during the protests, and one soldier was killed by a bullet fired from Gaza.

How has life in Gaza changed since the protests began?

Gaza’s economy is in freefall, according to the World Bank, which blames the blockade, multiple wars with Israel, and internal rivalries among Palestinian factions.

The health system has all but collapsed while the vast influx of casualties from the protests threatens to overwhelm it. High numbers of patients with complex limb wounds have significantly depleted supplies. More than half of drugs in Gaza are at “zero stock” levels, meaning less than a month’s supply remains.

World Health Organization

Quality of wastewater flows into the sea

Almost all tap water is undrinkable – either tainted with sewage or salt water from the sea. Authorities have at times said they had to pump raw sewage into the Mediterranean.

Gaza Wash Cluster/CMWU

Medical applications for exit via Israel

Israel has prevented patients from entering its well-resourced hospitals for medical emergencies. Very few Palestinians in Gaza apply for exit permits because they know they will be rejected. Those who do have a high chance of being denied or having their applications delayed.

World Health Organization

Hours of electricity supplied each day

Gaza receives electricity from Israel and Egypt but it is paid for by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. A rivalry with Hamas has meant the PA has occasionally stopped payments to punish its political foes, leading to daily blackouts.

GDP per capita

The economy in Gaza is crumbling, the World Bank has warned. Every second person lives in poverty and economic growth is negative. Foreign aid, recently cut by the Trump administration, is not enough to support life in the strip.

Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics

Unemployment rate

Most young people in Gaza have never left and say they have no hope for a future inside what they call the “world’s largest prison”.

US Approves the Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

US approves companies’ nuclear work in Saudi Arabia

Agence France-Presse, Washington, MAR 29 2019, 11:12AM IST UPDATED: MAR 29 2019, 11:45AM I

The United States has given the green light to companies to work on six nuclear projects in Saudi Arabia, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday, despite lawmakers’ worries that the kingdom could seek weapons.

Questioned during a Senate hearing, Perry confirmed that the Trump administration has approved six applications to do initial nuclear work in Saudi Arabia and two in Jordan.

Perry, who said the Energy Department approved 37 of the 65 applications it received globally since 2017, promised the United States was committed to ensuring the Saudis do not reprocess spent fuel to make nuclear weapons.

“What I’m really concerned about, senator, is that if the United States is not the partner with Saudi Arabia, (or) for that matter Jordan,” Perry said, “they will go to Russia and China for their civil nuclear technology.”

“I can assure you that those two countries don’t give a tinker’s damn about nonproliferation,” he said.

“We’ve got a history of nonproliferation, and nobody in the world will do it better than us.”

The approvals, first reported Wednesday by news site The Daily Beast, were not earlier announced, with Perry saying the companies wanted to shield proprietary information.

But Democratic lawmakers have voiced alarm that the Trump administration is rushing in secret to approve civilian nuclear energy in Saudi Arabia even though the kingdom — the world’s largest oil exporter — has not sought a so-called Section 123 agreement, under which a country assures the peaceful use of technology.

US companies cannot legally transfer nuclear material to countries without Section 123 agreements.

President Donald Trump has pursued a close relationship with Saudi Arabia, saying openly that the kingdom was good for US business even if the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is confirmed to have ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October.

Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post who wrote critically of the crown prince, was strangled and his body dismembered after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to handle wedding paperwork.

Representative Brad Sherman, in a hearing Wednesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accused the administration of working with the Saudis to do an “end-run around the law.”

“If you cannot trust a regime with a bone-saw, you should not trust them with nuclear weapons,” said Sherman, a Democrat from California.

Prince Mohammed has warned that the Saudis will pursue nuclear weapons if their arch-rival Iran obtains them.